15 February 2012

TDIV Q&A: Don't puppies in pet stores need homes too?

Q: "Why should I not buy animals from a pet store? Don't puppies in pet stores need homes too?"

I remember when I used to go to the mall with my high school friends and would purposely try to avoid walking past the “Today’s Pet” store. It would kill me to glance in the windows and see all the cute, cuddly puppies and kittens jumping up against the glass walls and huddling on top of one another in the corner.

I felt sad because a) the puppies’ confinement in such small spaces and the longing they must feel for their mothers, b) the commercialism of selling animals to impulse buyers, and c) the fact that I wanted them all.

Yes, animals in pet stores do need loving homes. If pet shops were to be outlawed tomorrow and closed down, the pets inside should be adopted just like the millions of animals already at shelters across the nation. But since pet stores are still in the business of selling animals strictly for profit, purchasing a dog or cat from one of these stores only contributes to the production of animals for monetary gain.

The point is, we shouldn’t be treating animals as commodities. According to The Humane Society of the United States, there are 6 to 8 million dogs and cats in shelters each year. We should always choose to adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue organization instead of a pet store, therefore saving it from a life of loneliness, malnourishment and death on the streets.

While pet stores continue to buy their “stock” from puppy mills that breed animals in horrific conditions, countless dogs are being euthanized at pounds. Encouraging the breeding of puppies for profit, as puppy mill operators and pet storeowners do, is simply adding to the already vast number of animals without homes.

Animal welfare groups are working towards ending puppy mills, but it’s a long road ahead. What you can do is help educate the people you know that are interested in bringing a new furry friend into their home.

Tell your friends the consequences of purchasing a puppy from a pet store:

• Supporting the cycle of forced breeding in inhumane conditions.
• Contributing to the number of dogs who end up abandoned by their owners, either on the street or in already overcrowded shelters where they can be euthanized.
• Failing to rescue one of countless dogs and puppies already in need of loving homes.

Walking past the cute, little puppies in that pet shop window is hard. But it’s our fault as humans that they are there in the first place. Be an advocate against the inhumane breeding and selling of puppies by also encouraging the spaying/neutering of pets.

Adopting a puppy, adult dog or other pet should be a serious commitment, not an impulse purchase. And keep in mind that an adult dog can make just as wonderful an addition to your family as a puppy would! So if you are ready to provide the love and care needed to raise a pet, please adopt from your local shelter.

To learn more about HSUS’s Puppy Mill Project:


Check out The Shelter Pet Project (created by HSUS, Maddie’s Fund, and The Ad Council) to see how you, your family and friends can help the many animals in need of caring homes:


“A person is the best thing to happen to a shelter pet.”

The more work we can do to help the animals already in shelters or still on the streets, the more lives we can end up saving. Please spread the word about the benefits of shelter adoption over purchasing animals from pet stores. Puppies certainly are adorable, but the reality of puppy mills and the greed and deception behind most pet shops sure isn't.

Rachel Fryer | Email
Maryland A lifelong vegetarian and animal lover, Rachel Fryer enjoys writing, traveling, eating spicy food, drinking coconut water, reading historical fiction and sweating (she is also a Bikram yoga teacher). Rachel is excited to attend grad school for her Masters in English in Fall 2012 and to adopt a shelter dog in the near future.

Photo credit: cc:flickr.com/photos/opensourceway